Friday, 30 July 2010

In the words Roy Walker and Catchphrase, 'Say what you see! ' Zotero, Thing 18

I have never used Zotero, Mendeley or Endnote for that matter. I have never had the need to in my library career, having mostly worked behind the scenes. The last time I wrote anything that needed a reference was back in 2001for my Masters dissertation, at which time I didn't even have access to the Internet at home. If my memory serves me correctly, I just wrote my citations down on an A4 pad. Retro or what?!

I am therefore coming at this from a completely untainted and uninitiated point of view, so in the words of Roy Walker on Catchphrase I'm just going to say what I see. Here goes...

Firstly, I hadn't a clue that Zotero is a Firefox add-on, plugin, extension or whatever name you want to give it. That's fine by me because  Firefox is my browser of choice at the moment. Possibly not forever though as it just messed up my home PC (don't ask me how, that's another post entirely). But nowadays it's so easy to download all the big 5 browsers to your machine, it wouldn't be a problem if you didn't use Firefox as your main choice, you could have it sitting around for Zotero use. I'm waffling about browsers now, back to the game, er I mean point. Where IS Mr Chips now anyway?

Account Fatigue and how to deal with it
Going to ' ' I spy a big download button, nice and easy, but have to restart Firefox after the download, back in a jiff... 
Download successful! But, oh no, I have to register? Total account fatigue has set in cap'n, she's gonnae blow! 

After setting up yet another account, I can see the Zotero button in the bottom right hand corner of my screen, so let's give it a go.  It brings up 'My Library' so far so good... (is that a catchphrase?). Let's try searching Newton. I find a really nice book called 'Champion cats of the World' that I want to save for later. Indeed, as the Zotero help says, there is a folder symbol appearing in my browser bar in Newton. I click on the folder symbol and hey presto! (another catchphrase) Champion cats appears in My Library complete with class mark, ISBN etc. I quite like this. Let's try it on Amazon. Yay, that was a success too. I Like.

I admit I'm not going into this is very much detail and am just scratching the surface of all that is possible with Zotero, but first impressions are good. Zotero seems very intuitive, smooth and easy to use. I don't know how I will use it personally yet as I have other preferred means of storage that do me just fine at the moment. I'm glad I tried it though and now have a much better idea of what is going on and will be able to help readers with their questions.  I refer you to Libreaction and Blurtmetry for more focus on the use of Zotero for libraries at postgraduate level and in conjunction with OpenOffice and Word, which I haven't even touched on here.

Bye bye for now Mr Chips!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Why Linkedin is like Toy Story... Thing the Seventeenth.

I went to see Toy Story 3 last night (great film by the way, would highly recommend it). Throughout the evening I was also thinking about linkedin and what I could write for this post. Consequently I woke up this morning realising that these two separate entities had merged in my head and I came up with the following similarities between them. Hope this post makes sense to you and that I haven't got 'Cam23-itis'. This post-a-day pressure might be getting to me...
  • People that usually wouldn't be seen dead watching a cartoon, will happily go to see Toy Story films. People that wouldn't be seen dead on social networking sites will happily join linkedin. This observation is based purely on people in the cinema audience last night and colleagues I found on linkedin yesterday. Names have been changed to protect the innocent...
  • Linkedin seems to be the old man of networks. It's been around for a while and everyone knows about it, just like Toy Story was one of the first computer animated films and has stuck around for sequels.
  • They are both very American
The size of 3D cinema glasses?
  • Is the time it takes to get comfortable worth it? I'll explain... the 3D glasses hurt my head as they are a bit tight and I'm not sure the 3D effects you get with Toy Story 3 are worth being uncomfortable. I would find it uncomfortable putting my work details online and I'm not sure I would reap any benefits from it. Although I do have recent evidence of someone being head-hunted through linkedin...
  • Woody and his friends form a very tightly knit and cohesive group with benefits. I'm sure Linkedin could be like that if you are in the right group and the group was big enough. I'm not sure that UK librarians are quite there yet
    Mr Potato Head by Tinker*Tailor
  • Just like Mr Potato Head, if he has lost one of his plastic ears, linkedin members can be a bit deaf. Interaction is carefully controlled. You need to be linked to somebody and for them to accept your messages before you can talk. If a person doesn't spend much time on the site, your messages may never get seen or accepted. 
  • Both Linkedin and Buzz Lightyear have a Spanish Mode. Only kidding...

To infinity and beyond? I think Buzz is more likely to get there before Linkedin does.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The Lighter Side of Libraries? Exploring Library Facebook Pages, Thing 16

This Blog post is going to be short and snappy. To the point.
I think there IS a space for Facebook and libraries IF you go about it the right way.

Exhibit A.  Library FB Groups and Pages that work:

Why do they work? It's a simple formula: keep it light-hearted, post regularly, interact, make it visual. Put a face(book) to your library, add pictures of staff and events, invite readers for cookies and juice, or to complete a stress-busting jigsaw puzzle during the exams, post interesting/amusing links. Why not? It's a bit of fun and shows that you care and are approachable.

What you shouldn't do is use your FB page for your serious and/or extensive announcements.  There are other and better ways for exchanging this kind of information.

Exhibit B: Library FB Groups and Pages that don't work (yet!):

Interestingly, I know that Cambridge University Library did have a FB page, but I can't find it anymore. My guess is that it was of a similar nature to the links above and they did the right thing and pulled it.  By a similar nature, I mean  too textual, irregular posts and no interaction.

I'm not saying a FB page is for every library. It's not even for life. But, if you can make it work and have the time to make it work, it can become a great space for your readers and staff to interact. However,if it's not working, forget about it. Just beacuse 'everyone is on Facebook' doesn't mean you have to be too.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

LibraryThing : Things 14 and 15 together, not cheating. Honest! And I'm not an alien...

I heard of LIbraryThing quite a while a go but never even looked at it to be honest. Today was my first time on the site and they must have some kind of IP recognition system in place because as soon as I was detected, there was a popup saying 'new to LibraryThing? Take the tour'. So I did...

I can see that LT would be a marvelous tool for small libraries with small collections and not a lot money or staff time available for cataloguing. The first 200 items can be catalogued for free and then after that there is a nominal $10 annual fee, or $25 for lifetime membership. Nothing really in today's money.

I really enjoyed the  Zeitgeist tab . This is a wealth of of great statistics from the over 1 million members. I could see that being very helpful for public library accessions. I flicked through the list of author's who LibraryThing but didn't recognise anyone! I'm obviously not that well read on American authors.  The Common Knowledge database also looks useful, although 'Data browsing has been temporarily disabled' appeared while I was there which is a shame. Apparently a new, more interactive version will return soon... so watch this space.

The Local tab search brought up my most local library when I put in my post code, although the search always seems to default to the USA, so not much use typing in 'Cambridge'. 'Cambridge UK' will work though. It looks like some book shops have an entry just for advertising purposes. Forbidden Planet is on there for example, but has no items listed. Heffers bookshop in the Grafton Center is also there! Description: ****Now closed**** replaced by a "pound store"! So, maybe take some entries with a pinch of salt.

Here is my site.

I nearly gave up trying to create an account because it wouldn't accept the author titles it was asking me for... I must be alien! I just added the books I'm reading at the moment from the Amazon database. The interface is very easy and intuitive. I think I might carry on with LibraryThing to replace the Virtual Bookshelf app. that I use in Facebook. That kind of sums it up really. I can't see myself using it in a professional manner, but it's a definite possibility for a virtual personal bookshelf.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Bad Backs and Blinkbox. Reflection Time of a 90's Student, or Thing 13.

I was listening to the news on Radio 2 on the way home on Friday and there was this guy from Blinkbox being interviewed. Blinkbox is apparently the next big thing in home entertainment. After you join up online you can either rent a movie to stream onto your computer or TV for a limited amount of time, or you can buy a movie that will be stored in your cloud for you to access in perpetuity. A virtual DVD shelf if you will. 

This interview got me thinking on a couple of levels (doesn't happen very much, so make the most of it). Level one:  the realisation that I'm listening to the Blinkbox guy and nodding along in agreement and understanding. This doesn't usually happen so it's a bit of a Eureka! moment, maybe thanks to Cam23. And, level 2:  my, how things have changed over the last last 15 years... I feel a reflective moment coming on...

...casting my mind back to my university days, I remember  the awful strain on my poor Dad's back every beginning and end of term. From 1994-1998 my parents had an old Volvo estate that was ready for the scrap heap but they didn't let go of it. Why? because they needed a large capacity car to transport me and all my stuff to uni and back on a regular basis. By stuff I mean:  a hi-fi the size of Asia and all the cassettes and CDs that came with it; a mountainous tower computer and screen (in a faded off-white colour of course); floppy disks in various plastic containers; stacks of course notes and A4 lever arch folders; tonnes of photos in albums; text books; French novels; German dictionaries; portable (ha!) TV and video recorder plus video tapes,   etc., etc., etc...  In 1998 when I finally graduated, the car heaved a sigh of relief and finally gave up the ghost, as did my Dad's back.

If I were going to university this October in the year 2010 what would I be taking with me? Just a laptop and a smart phone perhaps. I would probably have all my music, films and photos in digital format stored on said laptop or phone, or waiting for me in the cloud somewhere like Flickr, Spotify, or Blinkbox. All  my course notes would also be digital, maybe on Evernote.  At a push I'd have an 1TB external hard drive for extra security and storage.  I could access my text books and dictionaries online, so I wouldn't need to lug those about.  Even my camera would be integrated into my phone and I would stare with bewildered eyes at the mention of the acronym VHS.  In other words, I could probably fit everything into a small suitcase, get on the train and save my Dad, his back and his poor old Volvo a lot of work!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Mmmmm, a Delicious Toolbar for your browser. Thing 12.

I'm guessing that if you are just looking at Delicious for the first time as part of Cam23, you will find it one of the most useful and practical web 2.0 tools out there, both from a personal and a professional perspective. So rather than go through the basics I thought I'd come at it from a different angle and write a post on a little widget I use everyday: the Delicious Toolbar.

I use Firefox and the toolbar like this: 

It has three parts to it (as marked out in red above):
1. The drop down menu

As you can see, this gives you the option to save a new bookmark, gives you access to a list of recently bookmarked URLs, a list of all your tags, and your most visited bookmarks. The latter is extremely helpful when trying to decide which bookmarks to have as icons in your bookmarks toolbar.

2. The shortcuts on the navigation bar:

The tag icon (on the left in the image above) brings up a very handy pop up which allows you to save a page in Delicious and add notes and tags. The Delicious icon (in the middle) takes you to your Delicious homepage and the bookmark icon (to the right) brings up a left-hand list of all your tags and bookmarks. (I can't put screenshots of all of these functions in as it would get a bit crowded in here, so you'll just have to have a go yourself!)

3.  The Toolbar:

This lists your most recently bookmarked pages, or you can change the view to your most visited pages.

The Delicious icon on the far left gives you even more display options:

So how do you get this delicious tool, I hear you ask...

For Firefox go to: 
For Internet Explorer:

There is also a toolbar for Chrome, but this is has a totally different layout:

Happy bookmarking!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Slip sliding away, the ghost of web 2.0 past. Slideshare, or, Thing 11

My experiences with Slideshare mainly revolve around Tony Hirst who is a long-time user. Yes, 4 years IS a long time by today's standards.

Tony spoke at this year's libraries@cambridge conference, albeit virtually via YouTube because of the snow! So I thought I would look him up on Slideshare. I came across his first ever upload from 25/10/06 called 'Intro to Social Networking'. It provides a fantastic little snap-shot of how we were thinking 4 years ago in terms of social media:
Take a gander through the above and try to cast your mind back to November 2006. Let me jog your memory: 2006 saw Russia cutting natural gas to the Ukraine over a price dispute, the Winter Olympics were held in Turin, the Football World Cup took place in  Germany and poor Steve Irwin (Crocodile Hunter) met his untimely death.

A couple of thoughts for you:  Were you on Facebook in 2006? I wasn't. Had you any idea that Delicious was anything other than a good way to describe ice cream? Nope. If you'd seen the word Flickr would you have just thought 'that's spelt wrongly'. Yup!

What I'm trying to say is that things are moving so quickly nowadays,  sites like Slideshare can be a valuable archive of material that might otherwise get lost in the mists of time. If you produce a PowerPoint presentation, how long would you keep it for before you deleted it, thinking it obsolete, or updated it replacing much of the original content?

The above presentation is an interesting touchstone to make you think about how far we've come in a short space of time. It might also make you think about the future...?

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Top 5 tips and sites for 'free' images, Thing 10. Simples!

Where do you go to get visual content that is free to use? Free as in you don't have to pay, and free as in you are allowed to use it...

My top sites and tips are:

  1. Thanks go to Emma Coonan for pointing out this little gem. Set Creative Commons to 'only' at the top of the page to be sure of getting reusable content
  2. Images from Microsoft Office Clip Art is passé I know, but this site also has some great photos and backgrounds. It is easy to search by category, or refine your search using check boxes.
  3. Wikimedia Commons a huge database of freely useable media files which you can also add to yourself
  4. ImageCodr will generate ready-to-use HTML code for your web images. Takes the pain and hastle out of HTML code, licenses, attribution etc., etc,...
  5. Just search cleverly! Try a Google image search Then refine an advanced image search under 'usage rights' to pick up content that is labled for re-use. Same goes for Flickr Creative Commons where you can search under specific licenses


    Friday, 9 July 2010

    An amble through Flickr brings me to a highland cow and Thing 9

    Oh goody, goody, goody! This is the Thing I've been wating for: Flickr. I luuuurrrrve photography and images and have had 'join Flickr' on my to do list for so long that it changed from 'join Picasa or Flickr' to just 'join Flickr' as this giant of the image world has slowly taken over over.

    So far I have only used Flickr as a search engine for creative commons images for use on websites, so the full functionality of the site is relatively alien to me. I also haven't been very good at following the destructions, I mean  instructions, for each Thing on the Cam23 blog so this presents a good opportunity for me to follow the rules for once and look at something with fresh eyes...

    ...I got as far as 'Try one or more of the following searches' and I was away, lost in my own thoughts. Then I realised I had too many thoughts and would have to start writing this post before it became a novel.

    So, here goes. I will take you through my Flickr amble step-by-step and think out loud as I do so...

    Destruction 1: Go to and, without entering text into the search box,
    click on ‘Search’
    All ok so far, I get the main search screen with a blank search field. Doing well I think, so award myself with a cup of tea...

    Destruction 2: Try one or more of the following searches...
    Hmmm, I'll go for a place I want to visit and enter 'Lake District' and search under 'Everyone's uploads'. Not a good move. Takes ages. Tea goes cold.
    Try again and narrow the search down to 'Ambleside'  . Much better: get 25,474 results in a couple of seconds.

    Leave destructions and do my own thing...
    Sort results by 'interesting'. That looks, well, interesting. How do they define interesting? Are images tagged that way? No idea, let's see... oh, there's a photo of a highland cow that catches my eye. What's that got to do with Ambleside?  (can't show you the photo here as 'all rights reserved' but I can link to it: Highland cow by Lune Rambler

    Explore the little 'i' information button that's part of the thumbnail image. Oh, that's cool. Brings up a lightbox with extra info, including tags and I can see some of the tags, but not all of them as there is a '...'

    ... to find out more... click on the thumbnail of the picture to drill through to the bigger picture (no pun intended!). When I pass the mouse over the big image I can see that there is a hotspot over the cow's face and I am invited to 'give me a happy face'. OK. I will. Click on the mouseover and am taken to another user's Flickr site. I have no idea what that was about as I was expecting the cow to get a cartoon smiley face. That would have been quite fun. Maybe it is some kind of viral marketing? Answers on a postcard please...

    Next I decide I want to explore the tags for this image a bit further. Mais, ou sont les tags?? I have to scroll down quite a way past all the sets and the 'plus-signed' folders on the right-hand side (really don't know what they are and look annoying to me) to find the tag list. 30+ tags. Excellent. A photographer after my own heart; see previous post on tagging. 

    This is good, when I hover over the tags I can see who added them. Mostly the photographer, but also other users who seem to have put the photo into some kind of folder, or put it forward for an award? E.g. 'PlatinumHeartAward'.

    Again, I don't know what that's about. I will have to do some more exploring and sign up to put my own pics on there.

    Scrolling down a bit further, under the tags, there is some interesting equipment information. I can click through to stats about the camera, great for a photo-geek like me. I can also see the individual properties of the photo. Exposure, aperture etc. etc.  **rubs hands with glee**.

    Having just bought a new digital SLR I used Flickr to see which camera  SirCam was using. I much admire his photos so was interested to see what equipment produced such good shots. I did in the end go for a Canon camera and was highly influenced by Flickr photos in this choice. Fickr is good for camera research. You can even see how popular a certain model is when you click on the camera in the 'additional information' section of an image (see above).

    So, all that remains is for me to put my new camera into action and sign up for a Flickr account. Watch this space...

    End of amble.